The Rockford, IL, region is one of the largest epicenters of aerospace activity in the country. It is sixth in the nation in terms of concentration of aerospace production, employment, and one of the largest in the nation in overall aerospace employment. More than 6,500 employees in the industry sector work in the Rockford MSA. The Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) realized the region could leverage the successes of this industry. In 2010, the council created the Rockford Area Aerospace Network (RAAN).
In only two years, the region and its aerospace companies have celebrated significant milestones and achievements including plant expansions and the launch of new aerospace education programs. These achievements have resulted in the creation of thousands of additional aerospace jobs, as well as ensuring that a trained, skilled workforce is available for aerospace companies that are relocating or growing in the region. These outcomes are exactly what the RAEDC set out to accomplish when it established RAAN.
More than 200 aerospace suppliers have operations in the Greater Rockford area, which stretches east toward Chicago and north into southern Wisconsin. The region offers multiple diverse clusters of advanced manufacturing capabilities at twice the national average in manufacturing employment. It is home to five major Tier One aerospace suppliers: B/E Aerospace, GE Aviation, Esterline, United Technologies Aerospace Systems, and Woodward Inc. When aerospace companies do business in the region, they immediately benefit from the instant supply chain that RAAN provides. The network’s companies serve industry leaders like Boeing and Airbus, which benefit from being able to visit multiple suppliers during one visit to Rockford.
The Rockford region is very good at aerospace, having the critical mass of suppliers and infrastructure that Tier One suppliers and original equipment manufacturers need. Going forward, RAAN will continue building upon these strengths to maximize the region’s growth potential in aerospace, gain more high-paying industry jobs, and increase business opportunities for suppliers in the network. Additionally, RAAN has created a database of all aerospace companies in the regional cluster, which helps promote the instant supply chain and collaboration among companies.
Rockford Area Aerospace Network – RAAN